Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Alistair Begg @ the Basics Conference

II Corinthians 5:20
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 

We are called to preach in a way that persuades people's stubborn wills.  Even the apostolic precepts and precedents make this clear.  

Acts 18:4  Every Sabbath Paul reasoned in the Synagogue seeking to persuade the Jews and Greeks.  

The passionate longing of Paul was to be used of God to persuade both Jews and Greeks to the bountiful blessings of Christ.   He ministered from morning till evening trying to convince them about Jesus from the Old Testament and the Prophets.  Paul urged others, especially in II Timothy, that the primary role of a pastor is teaching.  "Timothy, continue in what you've been taught."

This preaching and teaching is set always in the context of suffering.  Paul knows that will be the eventuality.  The level of suffering was connected specifically with the level of teaching.  Paul uses words like trouble, distress, and even despair of life itself.  These are no conventions or contrivances, but events Paul suffered through daily.  

"God kicks the legs out from the stools on which his servants sit comfortably."  Why does God do this?  To keep us from believing our own press reports.  To keep us humble.  To keep us from relying on ourselves.  

There was nothing particularly safe about what Paul did.  Even the believers to whom he ministered said they would have nothing to do with him.  

II Corinthians 5 is set in the context of God's compulsion.  Paul is commanded by God to preach the word.  Spirit-filled, Bible-based, Christ-exalting delivery of the Scriptures is used to consecrate the Word of God to the hearers.  

Preaching is unpopular right now.  But none is more unpopular than actual Apostolic preaching which calls on the human heart to change its wicked ways.  

"I'm always encouraged by the passage in  Numbers where God opens the mouth of Balaam's donkey.  Some weeks it's as though God says to me, "Shut up, Begg.  If I need to I'll use a donkey."  

Every Sunday we are forced to recognize our own incapacities:  Our sin, our hurts, our failures.  And on top of that Satan is working to blind the eyes of the unbelievers to the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ.  On top of that we might fall prey to the familiarity of the very truth we preach.  We must come to the Scriptures in reverence, awe, and wonder.  If not, we risk falling into the contempt that comes with familiarity.  

As well as the deeply personal issues we face, we face terrible cultural issues.  People don't want prerequisites, perplexity, and exposition.  The theme of most messages is simple entertainment.  We want the congregations to sit back, relax, and enjoy themselves.  

We need clarity on the Gospel.  If we're confused in your own minds you'll never be clear in the pulpit.  We must know the Gospel and understand it so we can make it clear to others.  

We must preach, reason, convince, give ourselves, serve, tell them.  That's why we were created!  Sometimes we must beware of urging on our congregations things that we won't do ourselves.  

Telling people the blessings of the Gospel or warning them of the curses of rejecting the Gospel is not the same as telling them the Gospel.  

God requires the righteousness of Christ of us.
God achieved the righteousness of Christ for us.
God proclaim  the righteousness of Christ to us.
God bestowed  the righteousness of Christ on us.

Boldness is needed after the clarity.  We need to be clear of what we ought to be bold about.  The more clear we are, the more bold we ought to be.  Our boldness and authority comes straight from our relationship with God.  

The task of a minister is to be ambassadors for Christ.  Being an ambassador doesn't draw attention of himself, but the attention is turned toward the one who sent the ambassador.  

Urgency is needed.  Implore the listeners!  How is the service ended?  Is there a seriousness?  "We can't give the impression that we are clever and God is great, at the same time."  Is there a gravity to our messages?  To lend a sense of gravity, we must feel that sense of vital gravity.  What we preach is indispensable.  

"Christ commissions us to present Christ to the unsaved sinner urging, pleading that they commit themselves to the Savior."

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